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Feeding your brain properly

Contrary to popular belief, proteins, fats and sugars are essential for the brain to develop and function. The absence of certain elements can sometimes cause cognitive deficits, linked to mental faculties, or accelerate brain ageing.
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© Shutterstock / TijanaM
 

Balance your diet

Our brain is especially sensitive to diabetes, high blood pressure and excessive weight. There is no miracle cure: it requires a balanced diet.

A diet which is too high in fat and sugar has an indirect toxic effect on brain function. It causes an inflammatory reaction in the brain’s blood vessels which gradually leads to the degeneration of neurons and cognitive decline.

Carbohydrates fuel your brain

The brain uses 20% of the body’s total energy, although it represents just 2% of body weight. It consumes 120 grams of glucose every day.

Glucose provides our brain with energy. Our brain consumes over half the carbohydrates contained in our daily diet. As it does not not store them, it must be provided with carbohydrates at every meal, preferably with foodstuffs with a low glycaemic index (pulses and whole grains), as well as pasta, rice, cereals and fruit, rather than sugar. When the brain is not provided with enough carbohydrates, this can lead to a decline in cognitive functions such as memory, attention and learning.

Proteins contribute to communication between neurons.

Animal proteins (eggs, fish, seafood and meat) contribute to the production of neuromediators, the communication molecules between neurons. Low-fat dairy products, pulses, fish and lean meat are ideal sources of amino acids, the basic components of proteins. They increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, thereby improving your mood.

Half your brain is made up of lipids.

Contrary to popular belief, we need to consume fat. Cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids contribute to cognitive functions and prevent brain decline. Yet there are not enough of them in our diet! 55% of the human brain is made up of lipids, including cholesterol and fatty acids which are essential for building the brain and for it to function properly. Fatty acids from the omega-3 family (mackerel, salmon and walnut oil) and from the omega-6 family (vegetable oils and meat) protect against degeneration of the nervous system.

Micronutrients for proper brain function

Vitamins and mineral salts are also invaluable to the brain. Potassium, sodium and calcium are vital for neurons to function properly. They also contribute as cofactors to a large number of metabolic reactions such as the production of neuromediators which ensure communication between neurons. Their role then is to facilitate the actions of enzymes and maintain them in an active form. Some vitamins also have a protective function, neutralising toxic metabolites.